The Pomona-Pitzer women’s soccer team continued in its vein of good form this past weekend, dispatching visiting Occidental College (2-5-1, 1-3-1 SCIAC) in a strong offensive performance to move back up to .500 in conference play. P-P (5-4, 3-2 SCIAC) had made a strong statement last week, smashing the University of Redlands (5-1-1, 4-1 SCIAC) 7-0 for the Sagehens' first league win of the season. However, the Hens had to ensure that their concentration did not slip ahead of a clash against the Tigers, another traditionally strong SCIAC squad.
With temperatures at kick-off reaching into the mid 90s, the home team got off to a difficult start as Occidental struck first blood early. Julie Khil found herself by the near post of the Sagehens’ goal and squared across to Megan Maher for the latter to prod home an easy finish past goalkeeper Corey Goelz PO ’17. The heat meant that the tempo remained low-key for the next twenty minutes, with a few precious chances, before P-P made its first breakthrough of the day.
A mid-range effort from forward Danika Bethune PO ’17 deflected off of striker Abby Onderwyzer Gold PO ’18, wrongfooting Occidental keeper Dallas Gunny, who watched the ball ricochet into her net. Gunny was the busier keeper for the rest of the half, pulling off two more saves to keep the score at 1-1 heading into halftime.
Ten minutes into the second half, however, P-P made what would prove to be a decisive breakthrough. Defender Natalie Barbaresi PO ’16 picked up a short corner from forward Alyssa Kim PZ ’17 and whipped a good cross into the box. The cross was met by a crisp volley from forward Sofia Barsher PZ ’18, who rocketed a shot into the back of the net.
With confidence surging, the Sagehens pressed hard to double their advantage, and did so in the 64th minute thanks to good play from two of the team’s best players of the day. This time Gold was the provider, chipping a long pass forward towards a charging Kim, who kept her composure to slide a shot home past Gunny. Four minutes later and the result was all but confirmed, with Barbaresi seeing a shot on Occidental’s goal go in off a Tigers player, in what would later be credited as an own goal. Dru Ishibashi got one late for the visiting team, but in the end the Sagehens had few problems seeing out the 4-2 result.
P-P looked to take its burgeoning offensive form on the road to the University of La Verne (5-3-1, 3-2 SCIAC) on Wednesday. Once again the Sagehens found themselves clicking early, with certain key performers surfacing once more. Kim notched another assist with barely sixteen minutes on the board as she lofted a clever pass into the path of Bethune, who slotted coolly past home keeper Jasmine Valadez.
Bethune drew a save from Valadez barely two minutes later as the visitors threatened to run rampant, but the rest of the first half was a scrappy affair. The home team did draw level in the 43rd off a very good finish from Tatiana Raygoza, who chipped a delicately-placed shot over the head of Sagehen goalkeeper Annie Wedel PO ’16.
Despite conceding on the brink of halftime, the Sagehens’ confidence didn’t seem to be dented after the restart, and within four minutes of the start of the second half, P-P found itself back on top. A 50th-minute corner by midfielder Agueda Dudley-Berrios PO ’17 was cushioned neatly by the head of defender Molly Mosher PO ’18 right to Bethune, who produced another neatly-struck finish for her seventh goal of the season, taking her up to second in the overall SCIAC standings.
In the 57th minute the visitors scored once more off a set piece, this time down to the individual brilliance of forward Katie Tao PO ’17, who placed a crisp free kick from the middle of the pitch past Valadez to extend P-P’s lead to two goals. With the Sagehens' defense turning in a fine effort on the evening thanks to strong games from the likes of Wedel, Goelz, Barbaresi and defender Nadia Alaiyan PO ’17, P-P was able to see out the final half hour of the match in comfort, with only the heroics of Valadez preventing a heavier defeat for La Verne.
The Sagehens ended the match having gone up to joint second place in the SCIAC and will fancy their chances to stay among the higher reaches of the conference as they begin a four-game home stretch with a Saturday afternoon fixture against California Lutheran University (3-5-1, 2-2-1 SCIAC).